MEDFORD, MASS. – The nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College men’s lacrosse team is moving on to the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship following an 18-11 win over the nationally-ranked Catholic University Cardinals in the second round of the tournament.
With the win, Fisher, which is ranked fourth in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association national poll, improves to 16-2 on the season, while Catholic, which is ranked 22nd in the same poll, had its season ended with a final record of 13-5.
After an opening face-off win from Joe Post, Fisher looked to its all-time goals leader, Nicholas Miller, for the game’s first shot and he delivered with the first goal of the game.
Just two minutes later, Miller would find the top shelf and score his second of the game following an assist from Matthew Kemmis.
Trailing by two goals, Catholic had its first offensive opportunity as the team moved the ball around and found an open shot but was saved by Ben Hammond. Fisher then cleared the ball and found veteran midfielder Jack Mulvihill sprinting to the net for the game’s third goal.
Leading three goals to none, lockdown defender Kyle Rochester, forced a Catholic turnover to give Fisher’s offense a fastbreak. Jordan Leuze ran down the field and dished it to Miller for his third goal of the quarter, giving Fisher a 4-0 edge with just under eight minutes remaining.
A scoreless final seven minutes would send the match into the second frame with the Cardinals holding a 4-0 advantage.
Opening the second quarter, Catholic scored its first goal following a Fisher turnover, cutting the lead to 4-1. Less than a minute later, Fisher’s defense pressured Catholic into a failed clear attempt, giving Jacob Gallina an open shot for his first goal of the game.
From there, Fisher would tack on three more as Miller, Ian Evans, and Brennan O’Brien all found the back of the net to give Fisher a comfortable 8-1 lead.
As the quarter wore on, Fisher increased its lead to 11-3 behind a pair of goals from O’Brien, and Jordan Depetres. As the final seconds were winding down. Catholic attempted a long clear attempt but was picked off by Miller at half field. Miller then wound up and launched a long shot for his fifth goal of the game with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals a 12-3 lead heading into halftime.
Following the break, the Catholic offense woke up and outscored Fisher, 5-0, putting them right back into the game.
Heading into the final 15 minutes with a 12-8 lead, the Cardinals needed to find a way to generate offense and close out the game. Head coach Dave Dobbins gave his team the motivation to do just that as Fisher opened the quarter with four-straight goals in just under three minutes of play, taking a 16-8 lead.
Behind arguably the best face-off specialist Division III has ever seen in Post, the Cardinal’s offense was able to control the pace following six straight face-off wins to start the quarter.
Not going away easily, Catholic scored three late goals to close the gap to five goals with just over two minutes remaining.
The comeback would fall short as Fisher would score two more with a pair of goals from Kemmis and Ethan Kesselring.
With only 12 seconds showing on the scoreboard, Fisher would win its 23rd faceoff of the game and run out the clock, sending the No. 4 team in the nation to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Miller led the way for the Cardinals with six goals and one assist, while O’Brien, O’Donnell, Gallina, and Mulvihill all scored two goals. Hammond earned the win (16-2) after allowing just 11 goals and saving 11 shots. Joe Urlacher forced a team-high two turnovers and corralled two ground balls.
As a team, the Cardinals won the face-off battle 23-to-8, caused seven turnovers, and forced seven failed clear attempts.
The Cardinals will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Sunday as they will take on host No. 4 Tufts University in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.